A Movement Towards Linear Time

linear |ˈlinēər|


1 arranged in or extending along a straight or nearly straight line : linear arrangements | linear in shape | linear movement.

Songs have been around forever, or so it seems. Along with that so has song structure, you know, the old verse-chorus-verse-bridge-verse-chorus thing (ABACAB). While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this structure, why should all music adhere to it? As drummers we are awash in repetition: we play the same drum beat over & over, play the same patterns & fills, play the same old songs.

Changing the structure of the music I prefer to create & play has been an offshoot of moving away from the drum set. Yes, I still write and play music in more or less standard song form, but increasingly my music has become more linear in its aspects. By linear I mean that the music is a straight line from beginning to end, with no repeating sections, codas, or even long sections of just playing the same patterns over & over.

This idea is nothing new, as composers have been writing music that way for centuries, but the more popular song form is more popular because of the repeated patterns/sections that hook the listener by giving them something familiar to sing along to or remember. Perhaps my earliest exposure to a more linear style would be 14 Modern Contest Solos by John Pratt. Most schooled drummers have gone through this book at one time or another. Pratt is legendary in the rudimental snare drum world. His solos move along with a grace & ease that keeps you interested despite the fact that very little patterns/events repeat themselves. I remember back in high school taking to this book immediately. It’s still some of my favorite rudimental material to play through.

My current book, The Thinking Drummer: 10 Solos for Drum Set & Multiple Percussion (Volume 1), and the forthcoming Volumes 2 & 3, feature many solos that are linear in structure. http://www.gongtopia.com/Gongtopia/Bibliography.html

The next time you are looking for a fresh perspective, think linear.

~ MB


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